Kiepenheuer Institute for Solar Physics

Freiburg, Germany

Kiepenheuer Institute for Solar Physics

Freiburg, Germany

The Kiepenheuer Institute for Solar Physics is a research institute located in Freiburg, Germany. Its research focuses on the exploration of the Sun and heliosphere. The institute has one solar telescope on the Schauinsland Mountain near Freiburg and, in collaboration with other institutions, uses solar telescopes of the Teide Observatory in Tenerife, Spain. Wikipedia.


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News Article | May 24, 2017
Site: phys.org

The discovery of these and other extra-solar planets (and their potential to host life) was an overarching theme at this year's Breakthrough Discuss conference. Taking place between April 20th and 21st, the conference was hosted by Stanford University's Department of Physics and sponsored by the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics and Breakthrough Initiatives. Founded in 2015 by Yuri Milner and his wife Julia, Breakthrough Initiatives was created to encourage the exploration of other star systems and the search for extra-terrestrial intelligence (SETI). In addition to prepping what could very well be the first mission to another star system (Breakthrough Starshot), they are also developing what will be the world's most advanced search for extra-terrestrial civilizations (Breakthrough Listen). The first day of the conference featured presentations that addressed recent exoplanet discoveries around M-type (aka. red dwarf) stars and what possible strategies will be used to study them. In addition to addressing the plethora of terrestrial planets that have been discovered around these types of stars in recent years, the presentations also focused on how and when life might be confirmed on these planets. One such presentation was titled "SETI Observations of Proxima b and Nearby Stars", which was hosted by Dr. Svetlana Berdyugina. In addition to being a professor of astrophysics with the University of Freiburg and a member of the Kiepenheuer Institute for Solar Physics, Dr. Berdyugina is also one of the founding members of the Planets Foundation – an international team of professors, astrophysicists, engineers, entrepreneurs and scientists dedicated to the development of advanced telescopes. As she indicated during the course of the presentation, the same instruments and methods used to study and characterize distant stars could be used to confirm the presence of continents and vegetation on the surface of distant exoplanets. The key here – as as been demonstrated by decades of Earth observation – is to observe the reflected light (or "light curve") coming from their surfaces. Measurements of a star's light curve are used to to determine what type of class a star is and what processes are at work within it. Light curves are also routinely used to discern the presence of planets around stars – aka. the Transit Method, where a planet transiting in front of a star causes a measurable dip in its brightness – as well as determining the size and orbital period of the planet. When used for the sake of planetary astronomy, measuring the light curve of worlds like Proxima b could not only allow astronomers to be able to tell the difference between land masses and oceans, but also to discern the presence of meteorological phenomena. These would include clouds, periodic variations in albedo (i.e. seasonal change), and even the presence of photosynthetic life forms (aka. plants). For example, and illustrated by the diagram above, green vegetation absorbs almost all the red, green and blue (RGB) parts of the spectrum, but reflects infrared light. This sort of process has been used for decades by Earth observation satellites to track meteorological phenomena, measure the extent of forests and vegetation, track the expansion of population centers, and monitor the growth of deserts. In addition, the presence of biopigments caused by chlorophyll means that the reflected RGB light would be highly-polarized while UR light would be weakly polarized. This will allow astronomers to tell the difference between vegetation and something that is simply green in color. To gather this information, she stated, will require the work of off-axis telescopes that are both large and high-contrast. These are expected to include the Colossus Telescope, a project for a massive telescope that is being spearheaded by the Planets Foundation – and for which Dr. Berdyugina is the project lead. Once completed, Colossus will be the largest optical and infrared telescope in the world, not to mention the largest telescope optimized for detecting extrasolar life and extraterrestrial civilizations. It consists of 58 independent off-axis 8-meter telescopes, which effectively merge their telescope-interferometry to offer an effective resolution of 74-meters. Beyond Colossus, the Planets Foundation is also responsible for the ExoLife Finder (ELF). This 40-m telescope uses many of the same technologies that will go into Colossus, and is expected to be the first telescope to create surface maps of nearby exoplanets. And then there's the Polarized Light from Atmospheres of Nearby Extra-Terrestrial Planets (PLANETS) telescope, which is currently being constructed in Haleakala, Hawaii (expected to be completed by January 2018). Here too, this telescope is a technology demonstrator for what will eventually go into making Colossus a reality. Beyond the Planets Foundation, other next-generation telescopes are also expected to conduct high-quality spectroscopic studies of distant exoplanets. The most famous of these is arguably NASA's James Webb Telescope, which is scheduled to launch next year.


Grant
Agency: European Commission | Branch: FP7 | Program: CP | Phase: INFRA-2007-2.1-01 | Award Amount: 6.78M | Year: 2008

This is the project definition for the Conceptual Design Study of the large aperture European Solar Telescope (EST). EST is a pan-European project involving 29 partners from 14 different countries. A consortium EAST (European Association for Solar Telescopes) exists with the aim, among others, of undertaking the development of EST, to keep Europe in the frontier of Solar Physics in the world. EST will be optimised for studies of magnetic coupling between the deep photosphere and upper chromosphere. This will require diagnostics of the thermal, dynamic and magnetic properties of the plasma over many scale heights, by using multiple wavelength imaging, spectroscopy and spectropolarimetry. The EST design will strongly emphasise the use of a large number of visible and near-infrared instruments simultaneously, thereby improving photon efficiency and diagnostic capabilities relative to other existing or proposed ground-based or space-borne solar telescopes. To achieve these goals, EST must specialise in high spatial and temporal resolution using instruments that can efficiently produce two-dimensional spectral information. The study aims at demonstrating the scientific, technical and financial feasibility of EST. It includes key aspects needed for a conceptual design of the whole telescope, such as optomechanical design, cooling mechanisms, adaptive optics, instrumentation and control. Different existing alternatives will be analysed for all systems and subsystems, with decisions taken on the most adequate ones that are compatible with the scientific goals and the technical strategies. Technical specifications will be given at the end of the Design Study for all systems and subsystems.


Grant
Agency: European Commission | Branch: H2020 | Program: CSA | Phase: INFRADEV-02-2016 | Award Amount: 9.05M | Year: 2017

The European Solar Telescope (EST) will be a revolutionary Research Infrastructure that will play a major role in answering key questions in modern Solar Physics. This 4-meter class solar telescope, to be located in the Canary Islands, will provide solar physicists with the most advanced state-of-the-art observing tools to transform our understanding of the complex phenomena that drive the solar magnetic activity. The principal objective of the present Preparatory Phase is to provide both the EST international consortium and the funding agencies with a detailed plan regarding the implementation of EST. The specific objectives of the proposed preparatory phase are: (1) to explore possible legal frameworks and related governance schemes that can be used by agencies to jointly establish, construct and operate EST as a new research infrastructure, with the implementation of an intermediate temporary organisational structure, as a previous step for future phases of the project; (2) to explore funding schemes and funding sources for EST, including a proposal of financial models to make possible the combination of direct financial and in-kind contributions towards the construction and operation of EST; (3) to compare the two possible sites for EST in the Canary Islands Astronomical Observatories and prepare final site agreements; (4) to engage funding agencies and policy makers for a long-term commitment which guarantees the construction and operation phases of the Telescope; (5) to involve industry in the design of EST key elements to the required level of definition and validation for their final production; (6) to enhance and intensify outreach activities and strategic links with national agencies and the user communities of EST. To accomplish the aforementioned goals, this 4-year project, promoted by the European Association for Solar Telescopes (EAST) and the PRE-EST consortium, encompassing 23 research institutions from 16 countries, will set up the Project Office


Grant
Agency: European Commission | Branch: FP7 | Program: CP-CSA-Infra | Phase: INFRA-2008-1.1.1 | Award Amount: 13.23M | Year: 2009

The Optical Infrared Coordination Network for astronomy brings together all the national and international agencies and organisations which fund, support, develop and operate Europes facilities for optical and infrared astronomy, both night-time - callsical astronomy- and daytime - solar astronomy. Opticon provides a framework allowing joint action to improve the quality of Europes infrastructures, to train new astronomers, especially those from Central Europe, in modern new research methods, to develop innovative technologies to enhance research quality, to plan for future developments, and to work towards a strategic plan for Europes future research infrastructures.


Grant
Agency: European Commission | Branch: FP7 | Program: CP-CSA-Infra | Phase: INFRA-2012-1.1.26. | Award Amount: 8.20M | Year: 2013

This project aims at integrating the major European infrastructures in the field of high-resolution solar physics. The following actions will be taken: (i) realise Trans-national Access to external European users; (ii) enhance and spread data acquisition and processing expertise to the Europe-wide community; (iii) increase the impact of high-resolution data by offering science-ready data and facilitating their retrieval and usage; (iv) encourage combination of space and ground-based data by providing unified access to pertinent data repositories; (v) foster synergies between different research communities by organising meetings where each presents state-of-the-art methodologies; (vi) train a new generation of solar researchers through setting up schools and an ambitious mobility programme; (vii) develop prototypes for new-generation post-focus instruments; (vii) study local and non-local atmospheric turbulence, their impact on image quality, and ways to negate their effects; (viii) improve the performance of existing telescopes; (ix) improve designs of future large European ground-and space-based solar telescopes; (x) lay foundations for combined use of facilities around the world and in space; (xi) reinforce partnership with industry to promote technology transfer through existing networks; and (xii) dissemination activities towards society. The project involves all pertinent European research institutions, infrastructures, and data repositories. Together, these represent first-class facilities. The additional participation by private companies and non-European research institutions maximizes the impact on the world-wide scale. In particular, the project achievements will be of principal importance in defining the exploitation of the future 4-meter European Solar Telescope.


Grant
Agency: European Commission | Branch: FP7 | Program: CP-FP | Phase: SPA.2012.2.1-01 | Award Amount: 3.22M | Year: 2013

Observations of oscillations on the solar and stellar surfaces have emerged as a unique and extremely powerful tool to gain information on, and understanding of, the processes in the Sun and stars, and the origin of the variability in the solar and stellar output. Through helio- and asteroseismology detailed inferences of the internal structure and rotation of the Sun, and extensive information on the properties of a broad range of stars can be obtained. Space-based observations play a leading role in helio- and asteroseismology, in close synergy with ground-based observations as well as theoretical modelling. Long observing sequences are essential for measuring the oscillation frequencies with the precision required, and to extract the lowest mode frequencies involved. The enormous value of long-term space-based observations has been demonstrated in the solar case by the joint ESA/NASA SOHO mission (Solar and Heliospheric Observatory. This is now being followed by instruments on the NASA Solar Dynamics Observatory (SDO) mission.Large volumes of exquisite data on stellar oscillations of stars with a broad range of masses and ages are being collected by the CNES space mission CoRoT (Convection, Rotation and Transit) and the NASA Kepler mission. Extensive Earth-based observations of solar oscillations have been undertaken with the GONG network (Global Oscillations Network Group) and the Birmingham Oscillation Network (BiSON) to ensure continuous monitoring. A asteroseismic network, SONG (Stellar Observations Network Group) is being established under Danish leadership. Equally important for asteroseismology is the availability of supplementary data on the stars from more traditional observations, to determine their surface temperature, composition, radius, etc. Only through a coordinated use of the space- and ground-based data can the full potential of helio- and asteroseismology be realized.


Siegel D.M.,Max Planck Institute for Physics | Roth M.,Kiepenheuer Institute for Solar Physics
Astrophysical Journal | Year: 2014

The universe is expected to be permeated by a stochastic background of gravitational radiation of astrophysical and cosmological origin. This background is capable of exciting oscillations in solar-like stars. Here we show that solar-like oscillators can be employed as giant hydrodynamical detectors for such a background in the μHz to mHz frequency range, which has remained essentially unexplored until today. We demonstrate this approach by using high-precision radial velocity data for the Sun to constrain the normalized energy density of the stochastic gravitational-wave background around 0.11 mHz. These results open up the possibility for asteroseismic missions like CoRoT and Kepler to probe fundamental physics. © 2014. The American Astronomical Society. All rights reserved.


Borrero J.M.,Kiepenheuer Institute for Solar Physics | Ichimoto K.,Kyoto University
Living Reviews in Solar Physics | Year: 2011

In this review we give an overview about the current state-of-knowledge of the magnetic field in sunspots from an observational point of view. We start by offering a brief description of tools that are most commonly employed to infer the magnetic field in the solar atmosphere with emphasis in the photosphere of sunspots. We then address separately the global and local magnetic structure of sunspots, focusing on the implications of the current observations for the different sunspots models, energy transport mechanisms, extrapolations of the magnetic field towards the corona, and other issues.


Grant
Agency: European Commission | Branch: FP7 | Program: ERC-AG | Phase: ERC-AG-PE9 | Award Amount: 2.44M | Year: 2012

Understanding the nature and distribution of habitable environments in the Universe is one of the fundamental goals of modern astrophysics. For the life we know, liquid water on the planetary surface is a prerequisite. However, a direct detection of liquid water on exoplanets, and especially on a potentially habitable Earth-size planet, is not yet possible. The existence of water almost certainly implies the presence of atmospheric water vapour which must evaporate under stellar irradiation from a cloud deck or from the surface, together with other related molecules. Therefore, devising sensitive methods to detect hot molecules on exoplanets is of high importance. This proposal develops several exploratory theoretical and observational aspects of precision spectropolarimetry for detecting water vapour and other volatiles on exoplanets and in the inner part of protoplanetary disks. These are new tools for making progress in our understanding which fraction of planets acquires water and how planet formation influences their habitability. As a double differential technique, spectropolarimetry has enormous advantages for dynamic range problems, like detection of weak line signals against a large stellar background and exploration at scales beyond the angular resolution of telescopes, which are crucial for both exoplanets and inner disks. Direct detection of polarized spectral lines enables recovering precise orbits of exoplanets (including non-transiting systems) and evaluating their masses as well as potentially their magnetic fields. First applied to hot Jupiters the developed tools will create a firm foundation for future exploration of Earth-like planets with larger telescopes. The same technique applied to planetesimals in the inner disks of young stars yields their orbits, temperature, and chemical composition. These will provide constraints on the formation of a planetary atmosphere in the vicinity of the star and its habitable zone.


Grant
Agency: European Commission | Branch: FP7 | Program: ERC-SG | Phase: ERC-SG-PE9 | Award Amount: 1.49M | Year: 2012

Solar activity impacts the near-Earth space environment and the Earths climate. It is caused by a magnetic field which varies over an 11-year cycle, the origin of which remained so far an unsolved puzzle for astrophysics. It is assumed that self-excited dynamos generate a complex, large-scale magnetic field in shear zones in the solar interior. Observational evidence for the physical conditions in these regions as well as for the large-scale flow components in the solar convection zone is marginal at best, but is urgently needed to explain the structure and evolution of the magnetic field. The core of this proposal is to gain insight in the processes that are of major relevance for the solar dynamo by novel and improved methods of helioseismology. The analyses go far beyond the state-of-the-art and are based on highly resolved velocity measurements on the Sun from NASAs milestone missions SOHO and SDO as well as the instruments of the GONG network. Combining the advantages of innovative local helioseismology methods with an unconventional approach of global helioseismology will fully exploit the unique properties of deeply penetrating seismic waves on the Sun. In this way unprecedented knowledge about the key processes involved in the deep seated origin of solar activity will be gained. By a paradigm change in global helioseismology, this includes for the first time full information on the structure of the meridional circulation and the magnetic field throughout the Sun. Moreover, three-dimensional views on the tachocline region in 200Mm depth and highly resolved seismic maps of the flow and sound speed variations in the sub-surface layers of the Sun present a highly innovative approach to understand the causes for solar activity on short time-scales. The results obtained will be important for other disciplines, e.g. space weather applications to protect technological systems in space and on Earth, as well as predicting the influence of the Sun on Earths climate.

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